PHILOSOPHY OF RELIGION. The Existence of God Reason and Faith God’s Attributes. Chance or Design? Cosmological Argument Ontological Argument. God: The Necessary Being? The Problem of Evil Agnosticism . Philosophy of Religion. How is god/God to be conceived? What is the nature of God?
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The Existence of God Reason and Faith God’s Attributes. Chance or Design? Cosmological Argument Ontological Argument. God: The Necessary Being? The Problem of Evil Agnosticism
Philosophy of Religion • How is god/God to be conceived? • What is the nature of God? • Can reason establish that there is a god/God? • Are there any reasons, apart form religious faith itself, to believe in the existence of God?
Reason and Faith • Reason: • Human intellect abilities • Our capacity to form beliefs for good reasons, on the basis of evidence: Empirical or Rational. • Faith: • A set of beliefs at least some of which are not supported by evidence; faith goes beyond available evidence. Faith is a gift of God- supernatural.
Natural Theology The study of God, His attributes and His relation to the world. Beliefs are established by reason working independently of any revelation. Dogmatic Theology A belief that is mandatory for members of a particular religion
Omnipotence: God is perceived doctrinally as all-powerful. God can do anything. God created the world ex-nihilo ( from nothing) Omniscience: God is all-knowing. God just knows God knows miraculously. God Knows in a way beyond our understanding. Immutability: unchanging God. Eternally: God exists at any moment of time. Omni benevolence: God is all good. God’s Divine Attributes
THE TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT or CHANCE OR DESIGN? • Argument: in its broadest sense it is an argument to support the thesis that the universe is designed; not necessarily the creation of a theistic God. When the Greeks spoke of a cosmic designer they obviously had no idea of the God conceived by the Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions. In examining the Design • Argument, therefore, we need to divide it into two parts: firstly, the argument in support of a ‘Theistic God’; secondly, the argument in support of a ‘Cosmic Design’
The Design Argument to Support the Existence of a Theistic God • It is important to be aware that under the term ‘theism’ there exists a diverse range of polytheistic and monotheistic beliefs. However, in this particular argument, as it was developed in the eighteenth century, theism was usually understood as a reference to the ‘classical’ concept of God, as elaborated by Thomas Aquinas and most commonly understood by the Catholic and Anglican traditions of the period. Briefly, God is perceived as single, omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and benevolent (all-good). This is also the orthodox view for Jews and Muslims.
THE ARGUMENT: • Premises: • The purposive organization of man-made object is evidence of the intelligence and purpose of the maker. • The world contains many natural objects (plants, animals, human body, etc.) whose organization is clearly purposive and the world itself is purposely organized. • Conclusion: • By analogy, there must be a maker of the universe who has made it accordingly to a PLAN. The world maker/creator, is God. • The argument was elaborated by the Archdeacon of Carlisle William Paley (1743-1805) in his book Natural Theology. He asks us to imagine walking across a heath:
‘suppose I pitched my foot against a stone, and were asked how the stone came to be there, I might possibly answer, that, for anything I knew to the contrary, it had lain there for ever; nor would it perhaps be very easy to show the absurdity of this answer. But suppose I found a watch upon the ground, and it should be inquired how the watch happened to be in that place, I should hardly think of the answer which I had before given, that, for anything I knew, the watch might have always been there. Yet why should not this answer serve for the watch, as well as for the stone?’
If you were to inspect the watch more carefully you would note that it has several parts that work in an orderly, regular and precise manner. Assuming you have never seen a watch before you would still infer that the watch has a purpose of some kind and that it must, therefore, have had a maker. What Paley is doing here is using the argument from an effect to its cause: you look at the effect (the watch), and then determine what caused it (the Watchmaker). • But what has this got to do with the Universe? Paley also uses the argument from analogy: does not a natural object, like, for example, the eye, also seem to be similar to the working of a watch? In fact, when we look at various aspects of nature, can we not conclude that nature itself is like a very complex machine? If we are to infer that the watch has a watchmaker, then we must also conclude that the universe has a Divine Maker!
Cause and Effect Argument: Adopting the empiricist approach: our knowledge of causes and effects is based on our experience. For example, you know that if you cut yourself with a knife then you will bleed and feel pain. But how do your know this? Whatever the source of your knowledge, the fact is that you were not born with this fact, it is not innate knowledge. You had to learn it. Comparison Argument. How can we be sure that this world is so perfect? How many worlds have you seen? This world, if it is made by a creator, could actually be something of a ‘botched job’ compared to other worlds! However perfect it may seem to us, we only have this world (and, now, a few others we’ve partially explored in this solar system) to go on. Arguments against the Teleological Proof of the Existence of a Theistic God
The Problem of Evil does raise a very important point: this problem is not just attacking the argument of God’s existence, but is questioning the nature of God as understand by orthodox Christianity at the time. If we are to accept the idea of there being a ‘Cosmic Design’ then one may have a stronger argument. However, consequently, the concept of ‘God’ may need to be altered: God is not benevolent. The fact that there is evil in the world could be accepted if the Designer were not a benevolent one. God is not omnipotent. Perhaps God’s powers are limited. It is possible to create something and yet have limited power over your creation, whether by choice or otherwise. Again, you might imagine creating a computer world with artificial intelligence (AI). The Design Argument to support the Existence of a Cosmic Design
Chaos Theory. Another significant scientific theory that may undermine the whole Design Argument is the belief that the universe is not really all that ordered at all! As quantum theory developed early this century, it became clear that at the microscopic level, physical processes were indeterminate; they were not predictable! Over the past thirty years or so it has become clearer that the motion of many physical systems (including planets) are not as regular as Newton had suggested. In other words; nature is not as mechanical as the machines we make at all, and, therefore, the analogy does not work! Such a theory also lends support to Hume’s thesis that there is no obvious sense in which the universe resembles human production. In fact, it could be argued that human production is ‘better’ than the universe, which is why we feel the need to produce things in the first place! Arguments against the Teleological Proof of the Existence of a Cosmic Design
Cosmological Argument • The Cosmological Argument is based on 3 principles: • 1. Something cannot be the cause of itself. • 2. Something cannot be come from nothing. • 3. There cannot be an infinite series of causes and effects. • The Efficient Cause: (Aristotle) • Efficient -Material - Formal - Final • Sculptor/sculpting- marble/wood- characteristics-the object
Thomas Aquinas- Summa Theologica • Question II. The Existence of God • A1.Whether the existence of God, is self evident? • A2. Whether it can be demonstrated that God exists? • A3. Whether God Exists?
Objection 1: It seems that God does not exist: God means-infinite goodness. If God existed there would be no evil, but there is evil therefore God does not exists. Objection 2: Everything in the world can be accomplished by a few principles. The processes of the world can be accounted by other principles. Natural things can be reduced to one principle, that is the principle of nature. All voluntary things can be reduced to one principle: Human Reason and Will. There is no need to be supposed the existence of GOD. Objections:
Existence of God can be proved in five ways: • Argument from Motion • Efficient Cause • Possibility and Necessity • Gradation to be found in things • Governance of things.
Argument from Motion • Would not it be much easier to say that there is a beginning? Let’s be empirical: when we observe the world we see that everything has a cause: the rain causes the plants to grow, the plants cause the production of oxygen, oxygen causes animal life to exist, etc. Does not follow from this that the whole universe, too, has a cause? Aristotle, rejecting Plato’ concept of the Forms, believed that everything must have an efficient cause; the efficient cause was the “Unmoved Mover” • Efficient Cause • Aristotle was a major influence on Thomas Aquinas who developed the causal argument as part of his Christian beliefs. Basically, Aquinas stated that if A causes B, and B causes C, then A is the first cause, and C is the last cause. But what happens if A does not occur? Neither B nor C will occur either. The causal chain must, therefore, have a beginning, and that beginning is God.
In Nature things that are possible are either, to be - they are created, or not to be, they are destroyed; it is impossible for them to always exist, if this is possible, then at one time there could have been nothing in existence. For something to exist, its existence begins by something already existing. If at one time Nothing was in existence, it would have been impossible for anything to have begun to exist… and now nothing would be in existence, but there are things that exist, therefore, not all being are merely possible, but must be something which existence is necessary. Every necessary thing is caused by another. We must admit the existence of some being having of itself its own necessity - GOD, causing others to exist. From Possibility to Necessity
Argument of Perfection • Things in the world are in gradation, less or more, good, noble, hot- therefore there must be something that is best, noblest, hottest, and something, which is MOST BEING - PERFECTION, and that is GOD.
Governance of Things • Things that lack being (imperfect), as natural bodies act for an end, to obtain the best result. • They achieve their goal not by chance, but by design. • Who ordered things to their end, directed them, GOD, in the same way that ‘the arrow is directed by the archer”.
Ontological Argument, God, The Necessary Being? • Saint Anselm, defines God “is that than which nothing greater can be thought”. God is the greatest possible thing we can conceived, • His logical argument is a Reduction to Absurdity- the negation of the conclusion leads to an absurdity. • The concept of GOD is of a being no greater that which can be conceived. But a being which exists is greater than a being which is merely conceived;if GOD did not exist, GOD would be a being no greater that which can be conceived, THEREFORE, GOD exists.
There are two types of existence: We can conceive of things that exist in reality, but we can also conceive of things that do not. That which exists in the mind could possibly exist in reality. The fact that we are able to conceive of a being that is capable of performing acts that we, as mere mortals, are not, at least points to its possibility, even if you are unable to understand all of its attributes. Things that exist in reality are greater that those that exist in the mind. Anselm suggests that if you can conceive of something greater in the mind and that there is a possibility that it exists, then its existence would be greater than a figment of someone’s imagination. Main Points of Anselm’s Argument:
Main Points of Anselm’s Argument: II • God only exists in the mind. If we accept the definition of God, ‘a being than which none greater can be conceived’ and we also accept the argument that a being that exists in reality is considerably greater than one than exists in the mind, then God must exist. God in reality is far greater than God in the mind. • God exists both in reality and in the mind. Provided we accept the possibility of the greatest being, and that which exists in reality is greater than that which exists in the mind, then God, as the greatest being cannot exist only in the mind.
The Problem of Evil. • This problem is a long and complex one, and is best detailed in a future article. Briefly, if the Cosmic Designer is the theistic omnipotent and benevolent God, then why is the world so full of evil? When we look at the world it does not appear to be as happy and harmonious as one might wish: seemingly arbitrary mass destruction, disease, creatures torturing and killing other creatures, pain and illness…Why would a benevolent God let such things happen? Or why would an omnipotent God create a world where such things have to happen?
At the beginning of Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas admitted that the existence of evil is the best argument against the existence of God. A tension exists between the beliefs about evil and the characteristics of the classical, theistic view of God: • Omnipotence. God is perceived doctrinally as 'all-powerful', but immediately we can see problems with this. Are we to say, as Descartes suggests, that God can do anything? Can he square a circle, or commit suicide? Can he create a being greater than himself? If so, why cannot God prevent evil?
Omniscience. God is 'all-knowing.' Does this mean he knows what has happened, is happening, and is going to happen everywhere (therefore, also omnipresent) and to every body? If this is the case, why did he not foresee the rise of Hitler and do something about it? • Omnibenevolence. In a narrow sense, God as 'all-good' refers to his moral character (as opposed to the wider definition of 'perfection'). If God is creator of all things, how could he have allowed the existence of evil?
Bearing these characteristics in mind, we seem to come to one of either the following conclusions: • Either a. The 'Theistic God' exists & Evil does not exist. • Or b. The 'Theistic God' does not exist & Evil does exist.
Interconnectedness Without the Divine • From the Buddhist tradition, we see an intuitive understanding of what is that contains no divine figure. In this vision of the simultaneous existence of all that is, has been or will be, only “time” stands between (Siddhartha). • Fritjof Capra, a contemporary theoretical physicist, has observed, this Eastern conception of the universe bears a striking resemblance to the Western scientific understanding of reality as described by quantum theory:
“The eastern mystics see the universe as an inseparable web, whose interconnections are dynamic and not static. The cosmic web is alive; it moves, grows and changes continually. Modern physics, too, has come to conceive of the universe as such as web of relations and, like Eastern mysticism, has recognized that this web is intrinsically dynamic. The dynamic aspect of matter arises in quantum theory as a consequence of the wave-nature of subatomic particles, and is even more essential in relativity theory… where the unification of space and time implies that being of matter cannot separated from its activity.”
It seems that scientist and mystics sometimes use a common language to describe what both agree is in many ways indescribable: the inner essence of reality. Like Anselm, Aquinas, and Paley, Christian mystics claim knowledge of God. Their certainty arises not out of the linear logic of reason, but intuitively , based on their experience. What they know cannot be proved, but then again, much of what we know about the world cannot be proved either, at least not using the traditional methods of science.
Nontraditional Images of God- “Herland”God as Mother • The image of God as loving father and the maleness of Jesus have both been cited as reasons for excluding women from the Christian institution and priesthood. If not excluding completely, this specific and purposive conception of God has restricted, women participation in religion. If to mediate between the divine and the human one must be male, where does this leave women? • We have then the responsibility to make explicit the assumptions received from this tradition that clearly exclude as well include women; the inclusion as favorable to the interested of the dominant gender, in order to find begin responsibility for some of the inconsistencies of the system. This approach could begin a process in which both woman and men must be demythologized.
Atheistic Worldview: from “Roots of Wisdom” • If the God of theism does not exist, then all meaning might be said to derive from human values. According to Protagoras, without God, “man is the measure of all things.” Without a personal God, we might conclude that all creative and technological accomplishments are monuments to human potential and should be celebrated as the legacies one generation leave to the next so that continuous progress is possible. We are responsible to ourselves and to our fellow travelers to behave reasonably and to be true to our human nature. The purpose of life is what we bring to it; our dreams and hopes for a better present and brighter future. The purpose of my life is whatever I decide it should be. When I die, my consciousness will die with me; my contributions to human knowledge and the creative spirit, as well as the people whose lives I have influenced, will be my immortality. While they live and while my accomplishments endure, I will not be forgotten. My children and grandchildren are my legacies to the future.